« ForrigeFortsæt »
me that each of these works was in this respect im. perfect and inaccurate; no regular comparison being made by any of these gentlemen between the statutes of the respective countries. A comparative view of the English and Irish statutes seemed, therefore, to be a great desideratum ; and this feeling I had, I believe, in cominon with every other : member of the profession of the law in this country. . The measure of a legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland, seemed to me to furnish an additional argument for the necessity of such a review, and an additional incitement to the undertaking; and the idea accordingly suggested itself to my mind, that my time could not be more profitably employed, than in the framing of such a digest and comparative view of the English and Irish statutes, as might not only be useful to the profession of the law, and to the public in general, but also assist the peers of parliament in the exercise of the appellate jurisdiction, direct the legislature in the formation and extension of their acts, and finally lead to the assimilation of the laws in the several parts of the united kingdom. A great portion of my time during several years was occupied in forming the groundwork of this extensive plan: the operations of comparing and abstracting which such an undertaking required, were of a tedious and laborious nataire : but a principal difficulty consisted in the arrangement of the materials which I had collected for the execution of the work. The continual re
serence which I was in the habit of making to Sir Reasons for
W. Blackstone's commentaries, for the English adopting statutes relating to the several branches of the law, analytical arrungement, suggested to me the idea of arranging this digest
upon his plan; and I thought I could not render it more useful, or recommend it more to public favour, than by making it an associate to the commentaries, and engrafting it on that valuable work, which, as Sir W. Jones observes, “is the most correct and beautiful outline that ever was exhibited of
any human science.” In adopting this arrangement, I am aware, however, that I may have some prejudices to encounter: All former abridgments of the English or Irish statutes have been uniformly alphabetical: but their authors all concur in observing, that “many statutes may for different reasons be placed under different heads;" and accordingly none of them agree in the choice of the titles under which they should be placed. Mr. Cay, in his abridgment of the English statutes, very justly remarks, that “ unless one consistent method be observed throughout in arranging the statutes under their proper heads, it is not easy to find them, or to make use of the abridgment.” It appeared to me, therefore, that the statutes should have a fixed and determinate arrangement, and that they should be classed in the order of scientific distribution, and not dispersed or collected according to the fancy of an author. It may, however, be objected, that to understand this analytical arrangement, a person must be first acquainted with the science of the law, and that the sphere of the utility of an abridgment so arranged must be of necessity contracted. To obviate any such objection, I determined to annex an index to the con- Inder or altents of the work, which should embrace the heads phabetical
table, annerunder which the statutes are ranged in other abridg-ed to the
work. ments, and which I hope will be found to supply additional aids for the purpose of referring to the statutes upon any particular subject. But the plans of the other abridgments or digests of English or Irish statutes, appeared to me to be objectionable upon another ground, namely, that the statutes are arB 2
ranged chronologically, and abridged in the consecutive order of the sections in each act. It is obvious that this principle militates against all potions of scientific arrangement; and this manifest inconvenience arises, that it becomes necessary to read the whole of a voluminous title, before a person can know how the law is upon the point in respect to which he desires information. Thus, the statutes relating to the title “ Parliament,” which in the index to this work are distributed into fourteen heads, and in the body of the work into many subordinate divisions, are (if I may be permitted to say, without appearing to be invidious,) heaped together in other abridgments without observing any distinc
tion, connexion, or relation between them. Marginal In addition to the aid afforded by the index, I
have throughout the work introduced marginal notes, which I hope will assist the reader in referring with facility to any statute or clause which he may be desirous of finding. These notes are not framed as abridgments of the several sections, (which would rather defeat the purpose for which they were designed,) but merely as keys to the matter of each
The distribution of this digest into chapters, corento chapters, responds with that of Sir W. Blackstone's commensections, and paragraphs. taries, save that there are some chapters of that
work to which no statute could be referred. I have also followed his divisions of the chapters into sections. With respect to the minor divisions of the work into paragraphs, instead of making every clause or section of an act a distinct paragraph, according to the plan of other abridgments, for which there appeared to be no good or sufficient reason, I have in general included within the limits of the same paragraph, all such clauses as related to the same point, to preserve their connexion from being broken or interrupted, and to prevent also the work from driving out (according to the printer's phrase) to too great a bulk.
Esclusive of the index, there is also annexed to Plan of chrothis work a chronological table of the English sta- nological tu
bles. tutes, containing a short note of the contents of each act, the pages of this digest where they are to be icund, and pointing out also the corresponding or analogous Irish statutes. And a second table is subjoined, in which, e converso, the Irish statutes appear in the first column, and the corresponding or analogous English statutes in the second column, the third column in both tables serving to shew the subject matter of the acts, and the pages of the work where they are abridged or referred to. These tables also point out the duration of such acts as are temporary, or the statutes by which any have been perpetuated.
It is often desirable to know in what year of the Table of the christian era å statute is passed, I have therefore reigns of the
kings of added a chronological table of the reigns of the
England. kings of England, from William the conqueror's to his present majesty's, shewing their commencement and duration.
To facilitate the reference to the statutes at large, Table of con. a table of the contents of each volume of Ruffhead's tents of the
several voaud Pickering's editions of the English statutes, as lumes of the also of the several volumes of the Irish statutes, is statutes. apnexed.
The principle upon which I proceeded in abridg- What statutes ing the acts, was to omit no word of value, or which
are the ob
jects of this appeared to be at all material to the right under- compilation. standing or construction of them. Words of form merely, or such as may be easily supplied by any intelligent reader, are alone rejected : and in every case where I thought the titles or preambles served to throw any light upon the enacting parts, I have stated them also. It may appear extraordinary or
incredible, that the statute law of England and